Freshman year: life lessons and keeping your head above the water

LAUREN ELLENBECKER, Evergreen reporter

My first year at WSU was a rollercoaster to say the least. As I was starting school, I anticipated bucket loads of stress, but managing academic and social pressures was easier than I thought it would be.

Although receiving higher education isn’t a guarenteed leap into adulthood, considering several of my fellow classmates still send their laundry back home, I believe it has given me valuable insight on what I may see in the future regarding stress management.

In other words, I’ve learned how to put up with a lot of bullshit. Most of that B.S. may or may not be my own fault, but I have learned important lessons nonetheless.

I learned that dealing with stress is a colossal obstacle when it comes to being a functioning member of society. With several factors such as scholarships, academics, scheduling your own doctor appointments and general adulting, the stress can become overwhelming. Especially if your family is pestering you about what you want to do with your life.

I learned a great tip from my friend on how to deal with family members poking at the black void that is my future: If a relative calls me, shaming me for not knowing what I want to do after college, I can hang up on them.

In other words, I go Pavlovian on their minds — if I hang up on them enough times, they will eventually get the message, right? Well, maybe not always.

Once I tried this trick on my mom. It didn’t go well. However, I would like to emphasize that it works to a certain degree, just maybe not with your mother.

Although I may have been met with words of frustration from an agitated parental unit, I realized that keeping in touch with her and other family members helped me overcome my biggest problems. Like the price of out-of-state tuition making me question why I even wanted to go to college.

To distract myself from impending debt, I met more people, joined clubs and attended random events. Testing boundaries helped me discover what I loved and hated, and without that knowledge, I probably wouldn’t feel as secure as I do now.

I learned how to prioritize, plan, ask for help, attend the most boring classes and talk to professors, but these things were only a sliver of what helped me march through the school year. I deem the philosophy of “treating yourself” a necessary tool to finding happiness, and I see it as an essential truth when avoiding the feeling of being dead inside.

This year, I learned that dealing with stress is very important if I want to succeed. But the biggest factor in my success was recognizing that a student shouldn’t bury themselves in schoolwork until they eat, sleep and breath.

To my own astonishment, I have met seniors who don’t know exactly what they are doing after they graduate and I find this reassuring. No, I’m not feeding off of their undecided future, but it gives me confidence that I don’t have to figure out my life plan right away.

The moral of the story is my freshman year of college has prepared me for life way more quickly than I anticipated and I’m excited for what else is to come.

Lauren Ellenbecker is a freshman studying communication from Anchorage, Alaska. She can be contacted at